During the June school holidays, Sarin’s family planned a train trip to Kluang in Malaysia. It was their first family outing to Malaysia and also their first time travelling by train. The children were so excited that they did not sleep well on the eve of their departure. They woke up very early in the morning at 5 o’clock on the departure day and arrived at the Tanjong Pagar Railway station at about 7 o’clock to make sure they would not miss the train that was scheduled to leave the station at 8 o’clock. The family had some time to walk around and admire the historical station. The station would close its doors and end its train service at the end of June 2011.
The train was delayed and the family managed to board the train at half past eight. As they settled down at their cabin seats, they waited anxiously to see the train moving off. At about fifteen minutes to nine, the train started moving and accelerated out of the station towards Singapore Woodland check point, then crossed over the Malaysia-Singapore causeway and continued the journey to Kluang. Although it took about two and a half hours to reach Kluang, Sarin’s family did not feel bored. They had a lot of fun looking out from the cabin window and enjoying the change of scene from the modern to rural landscape. It was also worth mentioning that the family were among the last few batches of passengers who were able to witness the strange historical procedure of checking in to Malaysia first before checking out from Singapore.
It was five minutes passed 11 o’clock when the train arrived at Kluang station. The station was the size of only a quarter of a football field. Besides housing the ticketing office, it also house the famous Railway Café. The café has been operating at the railway station since 1938 and is a “not to be missed” eating place for all visitors to Kluang. Many visitors liked the old style settings and their famous Kaya toast and coffee that they served. The old kampong style decoration reminded Sarin’s parents of the days of growing up in Ubin Island. The family had a short break at the cafe. They ordered the famous Kaya toast, black coffee, as well as the hard boiled eggs and mee siam. It was really good and cheap! The café also has another branch outlet in the Kluang town centre. It was interesting to note that the branch outlet was only less than 2km away from the station but the price of the food over there was 3 times more as compared to the café at the railway station.
While the family was taking their break at the Railway Café, Sarin’s father went to purchase their return tickets at the ticketing office. Sarin’s father managed to book the 6 o’clock return tickets and so the family had about half a day to tour round the town. They began their walkabout by visiting the old town area along Jalan Mersing. They saw some old houses and visited some old shop houses selling local sundries and toys. Hairu was so happy that he could buy 30 sets of DIY transformer toy set. Sarin picked up a basketball and Fatimah got herself a beautiful set of hair clips. The family settled down for their lunch at a roadside stall near the end of Jalan Mersing.
After their lunch, the family decided to head towards the town centre so that they could see the new town area of Kluang. They stopped by the Kluang Square which houses many cafes, fast food restaurants, banks and shops. Finally, the family shopped at the newer shopping centre at the Kluang Mall before heading back to the train station for their train ride back to Singapore.
Sarin’s family arrived timely at the station, but was disappointed to learn that the train would be delayed. After two hours of waiting, the family was finally able to leave Kluang at 8 o’clock. The kids were tired and they slept through the journey back to Singapore. Hairu was snoring, Fatimah and Hairu were smiling in their dreams; both the parents and the kids had enjoyed the trip thoroughly…. Zzzzz….Zzzzz……